House Aviation Subcommittee Probes Runway Safety

 - February 14, 2008, 10:50 AM

During a House aviation subcommittee hearing on runway safety yesterday, DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel noted that aviation stakeholders are expressing growing concern about the rise in the number of severe runway incidents and that runway incursions pose a significant threat to aviation safety. Despite the FAA’s taking decisive actions to reduce runway incursions, Scovel said, serious close calls involving commercial aircraft continue to happen. During the first three months of Fiscal Year 2008, 10 serious runway incursions occurred. Scovel warned that if this rate continues, “There could be 40 serious runway incursions before the end of FY2008, which would be the highest level in six years.” The DOT watchdog’s testimony emphasized four areas where the FAA and other aviation users should focus runway safety efforts: implementing FAA systems to alert controllers and pilots of potential runway incursions; improving runway signage and markings; reinvigorating the agency’s national program for improving runway safety and identifying and correcting root causes of runway incursions; and addressing air traffic controller human factors issues, such as fatigue and attention, through improved training.